We started off our journey into Tuscany in Florence. After arriving by fast train from Rome, we took a taxi from the train station to our hotel. This would have been a walkable distance, but we thought it would be best to get there faster and drop our bags in our room before hitting hitting the town.
We only booked a single night in Florence so we could spend more time exploring the Tuscan countryside. We stayed at Hotel Santa Maria Novella, which was a great location on Piazza Santa Maria Novella with a beautiful view of the church across the Piazza as well as a view of the Duomo from the rooftop. There is also a lot of great restaurants nearby.
After dropping our bags, we hit the streets to find Piazza San Marco to meetup with our walking tour. The Piazza is the perfect tour meeting spot because it is located 100 mts from the Accademia and 500 meters from the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore. While waiting for the tour guide, we slipped into a super tiny cafe off the Piazza for a glass of wine and a coke.
Our first stop was Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. Photos really don’t do it justice, it is huge. It was amazing to see in person and be able to walk all the way around to take in the whole piece. The artistry involved to turn stone into sculpture is hard to imagine. During our free time in Accademia, I slipped back toward the entrance to check out several historic musical instruments. If you are a musician, you won’t want to miss the stringed instruments from the renaissance as well as some old Hurdy Gurdys and harpsicords.
From Accademia we headed to the Duomo. While the guide was speaking to the group, I slipped off to the side to capture some shots of the Duomo and area. Florence was home to the Medici family. While a work of fiction, the Medici series on Netflix was an interesting introduction to the time when the Duomo was being built.
From the Duomo we explored the streets, taking in some of the older areas and heading toward the Uffizi Gallery. While the tour didn’t go into the gallery, the guide gave us some history of the gallery, the buildings and some of the exterior works. We ended the tour on the oldest bridge in Florence, Ponte Vecchio. For centuries, the bridge served as a marketplace and still does.
To finish the night, the hotel was nice enough to squeeze us into a restaurant nearby for Bistecca Florentine the signature steak of Florence. After a long wait, we finally got in and the persistence was worth it. The restaurant was Trattoria 13 Gobbi.
Before heading to bed, we went up to the roof at the hotel to capture a couple night shots of the church and Duomo.
Cortona, our home base